Sticky Apple and Gingerbread Pecan Loaf

The best thing about the colder months just has to be the food.  Everything gets so rich, so deep and so delectably, rib stickingly comforting.  I'm choosing to ignore the fact that there is heat wave on its way and the sun is currently bleating through my back door, instead closing my eyes and imagining howling wind and rain beating upon the window.  My imaginary land is the perfect place for this cake, screw you sun, I'm Autumns girl!  

This loaf is just so delicious and if you can't face eating it all yourself right away, wrap it in cling film and it should keep for up to five days.  Not only that, but it actually gets taster with age.  Much like Alan Rickman.... mmmmm!

Sticky Apple & Gingerbread Pecan Loaf

150g unsalted butter
150g soft dark brow sugar
150g golden syrup
200ml milk
250g plain flour
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large free range eggs
50g pecans, roughly chopped
3 balls of stem ginger, chopped
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks.

Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan.  Grease and line a 2ltr loaf tin.  Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a small pan, stir through the milk and allow to cool.

Sift the flour with the dry spices and baking powder into a bowl, make a well in the center and pour in the cooled milk mixture.  Stir through with a wooden spoon using a circular motion. Fold in the eggs, pecans, ginger and apple.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes. Cool for five minutes in the tin, the remove to a wire rack.  Serve warm, cold, toasted or slathered with cream. However you will :)

National Cupcake Week, Day Three - Cut Out Decorations


When it comes to decorating cupcakes it's often the simplest ideas that give the most eye catching effect.  Cut out decorations are one of the easiest and quickest ways to decorate a cake and is a technique I often lean toward when tarting up basic flavours for Pet Lamb.  Add a flower here, a butterfly there and you're left with something much more attractive than just a plain old vanilla covered in sprinkles.

To start with you need your cutters.  I have a huge collection of cutters but these three are my sure fire favorites.  A simple blossom, rose and butterfly cutter pared with your favorite coloured fondant and you're ready to go.  You can pick items like these up at any cake decorating store or even Amazon for some speedy next day delivery.

To make the cute lil flowers above all you need to do is follow these simple steps.  First, roll out some green fondant to around 5mm thick and stamp out six shapes with your medium rose cutter and lay each 'leaf' into the indentation in an artists palate (I got mine from Paperchase, 60p each).

Next do the same with your pink fondant and stamp out six shapes with your medium blossom cutter.  Lay the blossoms over the leaves at a slightly offset angle ensuring that you can still see a little green poking through the petals.  Give the middle of each flower a little dusting of pink luster dust and leave to set for 24 hours.  Once set, slide the flowers from their little home and you're ready to decorate!

For the butterflies follow the steps for the flowers but rather than leaving to dry in a palate make yourself a little paper nest for them to set.  Grab the cover of an old magazine, cut it into thick strips and fold them into little Constantina so they make an M shape when stood on a table.  Place the butterflies into the V shape and leave to dry for 24 hours.

And voilà, there you have cupcakes that will wow and amaze your friends and family.  Happy decorating!


National Cupcake Week, Day Two - Shimmer Spray

Todays decorating technique is something I've only recently came across.  Dr Oetker have released a whole new baking range including this awesome shimmer spray.  It can be used to cover chocolate, cupcakes or can be sprayed over a stencil on brownies and cakes to create a shimmery golden design.  Also available in silver you can cover pretty much anything with this edible shimmer.  I just love how it glams up our Elvis Cupcakes for Pet Lamb!  I'm sure the king himself would approve.

The Dr Oetker spray is available in all good supermarkets. Buy a tin and glam up your treats!

National Cupcake Week, Day One - Piping

It's that time again, National Cupcake Week!  How exciting!  Last year I decided to post a new cupcake recipe every day for you guys to try at home. This year I thought I'd show you some of my favorite methods of decorating your cakes.  Today's demonstration, piping nozzles and their effects. 

I have a mean collection of piping nozzles and here I'm going to show you the different effects you can get using some of my favorites.  So grab yourself a cupcake and give it a go!

This is a great nozzle, it gives such a cute retro effect to your cupcakes.  Mine came from a set over at Bake it Pretty but most cupcake decorating sets include a wide circular nozzle.  Try this one from Wilton.

This is your more traditional Mr Whippy style nozzle.  Mine is a 1C from Wilton.  This is exactly what you think of when you think of cupcakes, so cute!

This is a closed star nozzle, this one also came with my set from Bake it Pretty and just like the wide circle, most cupcake decorating kits come with one of these.  This one gives a more textured effect than the 1C, perfect for brightly coloured frosting.

I adore this nozzle, this is the 1M from Wilton.  The most commonly recommended nozzle in the cupcake world.  Personally, I don't like piping high with this one and prefer this rose effect with beautiful pastel frosting.  This one is just perfect for a wedding.

And finally, my personal favorite, my Wilton 1B.  I just love the frilly layers you get with this one, such a delicate effect!

I hope this guide gives you a hand when it comes to choosing your nozzles.  Or, if you're anything like me, you'll just get the lot and go crazy ;)  Happy decorating!


Curry Crusted Salmon with Singapore Noodles

When I was ten I was asked to make my favorite fish recipe for Home Economics, or Cookery as it was called then.  All of my friends chose things like fish fingers and fish and chips but not me, I went for a decidedly more complex fish pie!  Even at the age of ten I was full of high hopes and expectations!  As you have probably already gathered, the pie was a disaster of epic proportions, undercooked and badly put together mush!  Never the less, I was proud as punch.  I took my little pie dish home, placed it on the dining table and stood back to await my families praise.  It never came, instead of praise the dining room was filled with groans of disgust.  I was devastated and while the rest of the family opted to eat something else for dinner, I stayed true to my pie, and it was disgusting!  So disgusting in fact, that until around a year ago I had never allowed fish in any form to pass my lips.  Even a glance at a fish finger brought back that horrible day back in 1993.

After years of fish dodging I finally decided enough was enough, the hatred of those slimy little buggers was deep rooted in my mind rather than an actual dislike for the taste.  I started delving back into the world of seafood, starting small with fish fingers and a battered cod before working my way up to king prawns and salmon.  I still have a long way to go, the sight of a little prawn is still enough to induce floods of tears and the very thought of trout makes me gag but I'm sure my journey will be filled with pleasant surprises.

This is one meal I can not live without these days.  Quick, easy and certainly doesn't scrimp on taste it's a winner for any midweek dinner!  I use udon noodles rather than the finer variety as I prefer the texture but you can substitute for your favorite kind.

Curry Crusted Salmon with Singapore Noodles
(Adapted from Nigella Express)

2 teaspoons medium Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 salmon fillets, approx. 200g each
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil 

For the Noodles:
250g vermicelli rice noodles (I used udon)
50g dried shrimp (I left these out, bleurgh!)
125ml Chinese cooking wine
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
100g finely sliced Chinese leaf
125g baby corn, sliced into thin rounds
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 teaspoons medium Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
250ml chicken stock (from concentrate)
3 x 15ml tablespoons soy sauce
150g beansprouts
4 x 15ml tablespoons chopped fresh coriander


Mix the curry powder, salt and sugar in a wide, shallow dish and dredge the salmon in this, turning the pieces all over in the rub.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and cook the salmon fillets on a high heat for about 2-3 minutes a side, searing the sides of the fillets too if they are very thick.
Put the rice noodles into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them to soak for 4 minutes and then drain them.
Soak the dried shrimp in the wine, then heat the oil in a wok and fry the Chinese leaf, baby corn and spring onions for a few minutes.
Add the curry powder and finely chopped ginger to the wok, and then the chicken stock and soy sauce. Pour in the shrimps, with their wine, and the drained, soaked noodles, tossing and shaking everything all together in the wok.
Finally, stir in the beansprouts and give a final toss, before turning out into a bowl and sprinkling with the coriander.

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